GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 May) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is planning to develop the Makar wharf here as primary gateway for potential corn shipments to various markets in Southeast Asia when the integration of its economies begin by next year.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the city port has the capacity of becoming a major base for corn exports with its expanded facilities for bulk cargo and proximity to corn production centers in Region 12 and the neighboring areas.
He said the agency is presently establishing a road map for such plan, which will mainly complement with the continuing increase in corn harvests and expansion of corn production sites in parts of Mindanao.
“Makar is a very good base for our corn shipments because from there, we can easily go to major markets in Indonesia and Malaysia,” said Alcala, who graced the opening of the 17th National Dairy Congress and Expo here on Wednesday afternoon.
Alcala said they are currently developing corn as the country’s next “champion crop,” which he described as one of the best options for the country in terms of exports when the 10 member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) start to open up their economies by next year.
He said that after importing as high as P28 billion worth of corn in the past years, the country is now almost “self-sufficient” in terms of overall requirement for the crop, which is a main ingredient for animal feeds.
“We actually plant corn all year round that’s why we’re having surplus harvests,” Alcala said.
Data released by DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Statistics showed that the country’s total corn harvests reached 7,377,076 metric tons (MT) in 2013.
Region 12, which ranks second in the country in terms of the corn yield, produced a total of 1,291,343 MT out of its 429,319 hectares of corn production areas last year.
The region’s corn output last year represents 18.4 percent of the country’s total production and 32.5 percent of the entire Mindanao.
Alcala said that based on their studies, the country’s other ASEAN neighbors are all dependent on imported corn, which are sourced from the United States and parts of South America.
He said their corn requirements in terms of volume easily translates to “millions and millions of tons” of shipments.
“We’re so close to them so I think we are in the best position to take over their markets and address their needs on a long term basis,” he added.